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Ten Books to Provoke Conversation in the New Year


1. Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons by David Bollier (New Society Publishers)
David Bollier is a leading writer and advocate for all those real-life commons – what we own, from the public lands, public airwaves, online information and local civic assets. He calls the commons a “parallel economy and social order that…affirms that another world is possible. And more: we can build it ourselves, now.”

2. All the President’s Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power by Nomi Prins (Nation Books)
All the President’s Bankers is about the hidden alliances between big bankers and the government leaders they have controlled for the past 100 years. A gripping history that reflects the words of the famed Louis B. Brandeis (later to become Supreme Court Justice Brandeis) who wrote: “We must break the Money Trust or the Money Trust will break us.” Prins was a former Goldman Sachs director. She knows this world.

3. How Can You Represent Those People? Edited by Abbe Smith and Monroe H. Freedman (Palgrave Macmillan)
How many times have criminal defense attorneys been asked this question when they represent unpopular, unsavory, or horrific accused defendants? Fifteen criminal defense lawyers write short but educational replies in both personal and professional terms. You’ll learn a lot about our legal system.

4. The Truth in Small Doses: Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer and How to Win It by Clifton Leaf (Simon & Schuster)
The Truth in Small Doses is a detailed, sober myth-busting report. Leaf concludes the “war on cancer” is a failure due to a dysfunctional “cancer culture” – “a groupthink that pushes tens of thousands of physicians and scientists toward the goal of finding the tiniest improvements in treatment rather than genuine breakthroughs; that fosters isolated and redundant problem-solving instead of cooperation; and rewards academic achievement and publication above all else.” He shows why “the public’s immense investment in research has been badly misspent.”

5. The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky (Nation Books)
The American Way of Poverty is a worthy successor to Michael Harrington’s The Other America which came out in 1962 and helped spark a war on poverty. Abramsky puts many faces of poverty into a broader context which sparks reader indignation that statistics alone can’t provoke.

6. The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald (Simon and Shuster)
The Firm portrays a finishing school for the plutocracy both as an early recruiter of future power brokers in business and government and as a “prestigious” provider of dated business management advice often of dubious value.

7. Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times by Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth with Project Censored (Seven Stories Press)
Censored 2014 is an annual open window to censorship of the big and routine kind. It is always a must read. This volume describes the top censored stories with media analysis of 2012-2013. What a shocking commentary on the so-called free press!

8. Lethal but Legal: Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health by Nicholas Freudenberg (Oxford University Press)
Aggregation is a key strategy for justice movements. Author Freudenberg gives readers an absorbing aggregation of corporate crimes and abuses that destroy or damage every day the health, safety and economic well-being of the people. Then he aggregates the past civic/political victories over market fundamentalism and its corporate outlaws for framing future reform initiatives.

9. Front Porch Politics: The Forgotten Heyday of American Activism in the 1970s and 1980s by Michael Stewart Foley (Hill and Wang)
Decades are stereotyped and often exaggerated. Foley counters the conventional take that there was a sharp and sudden letdown in civic activism after the sixties. Maybe the impression was conveyed by the media’s lessened coverage. Good antidote for those still demoralized by decennial mythologies.

10. The Capitalism Papers: Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System by Jerry Mander (Counterpoint)
The Capitalism Papers is a fundamental critique of the intrinsic problems of the capitalist system that the author believes are inherent to its structure and unreformable. A former celebrated advertising executive, Mander goes deeper into the perverse incentives of corporate capitalism than almost anyone writing today. And man, can he write. Too bad top Wall Streeters won’t debate him.

Years ago books mattered more in provoking change. It is up to readers today not to be overwhelmed by information overload, to be selective and make books matter again.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

October 13, 2015
Dave Lindorff
US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital
Steve Martinot
The Politics of Prisons and Prisoners
Heidi Morrison
A Portrait of an Immigrant Named Millie, Drawn From Her Funeral
Andre Vltchek
Horrid Carcass of Indonesia – 50 Years After the Coup
Jeremy Malcolm
All Rights Reserved: Now We Know the Final TTP is Everything We Feared
Paul Craig Roberts
Recognizing Neocon Failure: Has Obama Finally Come to His Senses?
Theodoros Papadopoulos
The EU Has Lost the Plot in Ukraine
Roger Annis
Ukraine Threatened by Government Negligence Over Polio
Matthew Stanton
The Vapid Vote
Louisa Willcox
Tracking the Grizzly’s Number One Killer
Binoy Kampmark
Assange and the Village Gossipers
Robert Koehler
Why Bombing a Hospital Is a War Crime
Jon Flanders
Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation
Mel Gurtov
Manipulating Reality: Facebook Is Listening to You
Mark Hand
Passion and Pain: Photographer Trains Human Trafficking Survivors
October 12, 2015
Ralph Nader
Imperial Failure: Lessons From Afghanistan and Iraq
Ishmael Reed
Want a Renewal? Rid Your City of Blacks
Thomas S. Harrington
US Caught Faking It in Syria
Victor Grossman
Scenes From a Wonderful Parade Against the TPP
Luciana Bohne
Where Are You When We Need You, Jean-Paul Sartre?
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The US Way of War: From Columbus to Kunduz
Paul Craig Roberts
A Decisive Shift in the Balance of Power
Justus Links
Turkey’s Tiananmen in Context
Ray McGovern
Faux Neutrality: How CNN Shapes Political Debate
William Manson
Things R Us: How Venture Capitalists Feed the Fetishism of Technology
Norman Pollack
The “Apologies”: A Note On Usage
Steve Horn
Cops Called on Reporter Who Asked About Climate at Oil & Gas Convention
Javan Briggs
The Browning of California: the Water is Ours!
Dave Randle
The BBC and the Licence Fee
Andrew Stewart
Elvis Has Left the Building: a Reply to Slavoj Žižek
Nicolás Cabrera
Resisting Columbus: the Movement to Change October 12th Holiday is Rooted in History
Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
Rob Urie
Democrats, Neoliberalism and the TPP
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
The Bully Recalibrates: U.S. Signals Policy Shift in Syria
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Hadi Kobaysi
How The US Uses (Takfiri) Extremists
John Wight
No Moral High Ground for the West on Syria
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid